Books by Bert Lance

Released: Nov. 1, 1991

If presidential candidate Al Smith was the Democratic Party's happy warrior, Bert Lance, on the evidence of the grouchy memoir at hand, ranks among the more alienated of its behind-the-scenes power brokers. The subtitle notwithstanding, the author offers precious few insights on his private life. Indeed, he focuses largely on his career as a fund-raising political strategist for Jimmy Carter and, more recently, Jesse Jackson. Whether his once-close relationship with the ex-President can survive the damned-with-faint-praise portrait that's a centerpiece of the querulous text will strike many as a very open question. The former banker from Calhoun, Georgia, also furnishes an exculpatory account of the legal woes that drove him from office as Carter's budget director. While Lance does not provide much detail on the criminal charges (of which a jury eventually found him not guilty), he complains often and bitterly about how the press has kept the scandal (putatively attributable to GOP fears that the chief executive might appoint him chairman of the FRB) in the public eye for over a decade. On the plus side, Lance comments astutely on contemporary pols and politics, speculating, for instance, that a President's capacity to achieve administration goals may be directly linked to the undesirability of his running mate as a successor. By the author's cynical reasoning, then, George Bush's choice of Dan Quayle was a masterstroke and Carter's anointment of Walter Mondale was a disaster. In like vein, he rails against his party's attempts to accommodate a surfeit of single-issue constituencies. If the Democrats are to regain the White House, he concludes, the party's leaders must create a platform with national appeal instead of one that looks like ``a quilting party for special interests.'' Occasional perspectives apart, the author's featured dish is sour grapes. (Eight pages of photos—not seen.) Read full book review >